I Guess I’m Not Rich

checkbook

Yesterday was a quiet Sunday morning, and before I entered the maelstrom of afternoon Men’s League soccer refereeing (it’s a war out there), I treated myself to a quiet cup of expensive foo-foo coffee.  Everyone else in the house was either still sleeping or otherwise occupied and couldn’t be bothered to join me.

Just as well.

I grabbed my cup and retreated to the outside patio, which offered a perfect vantage to watch a local, in-progress 100-mile bike race.  I use the word “race” very loosely, as it was distinctly clear to me that many of the participants very rarely biked or even exercised, for that matter.  More than a few stopped at the intersection in front of me, got off their rides, and pretended that they were adjusting some critical component on their ride.

They weren’t fooling me.  I knew they were exhausted and thinking, “How can I possibly get up another hill?” and “Why am I here?”

Their torment made me feel a bit better about myself, since when I sat down and observed the spectacle before me, my first instinct was to beat myself up thusly:  “I should be out there with them, working hard, breaking a sweat, making myself stronger.”

Then when I saw how many people were barely locomoting their bedraggled asses butts along the route, I figured:  “Actually, I’m pretty happy sitting here in the sun watching these guys kill themselves.”

Thoughts (and dispositions) can be fickle.

I then turned my attention to catching up on things via the latest on-line news articles, and more out of sheer government shutdown fatigue than anything else, I clicked on a link that described the four main habits or characteristics of “wealthy” people.

Hmmm,” I thought.  “Let’s see how bad off I really am.”

There was good news and bad news.

According to the link (I guess I should reference it, but all I can remember is that it was somewhere buried on msn.com), I’m actually in fairly decent shape regarding three of the primary points.  That is to say, Wealthy Muggles:

1)  Tend to stay married/in a relationship with one person for a long period of time.

Check.  Approaching twenty-eight years on this one.

I’m thinking if you marry and divorce a lot (whatever that means), it’s a detriment to one’s overall financial health.

2)  Tend to stay in one house/dwelling for a long period of time.

Check.  Approaching fourteen years in this ramshackle modest suburban box, in which something is always broken and needs fixing.

3)  Tend to not spend a lot on expensive cars and things, while saving approximately 20% of what they earn.

Sort of.  I’m not sure about the percentage we save or the other tendencies, which leads me to the Bad News of Point Number Four.

4)  Compared to most everyone else in this country, tend to dedicate three to four times as much energy and time to budgeting, tracking spending, and knowing exactly where all the money is going each month.

Nope.

Oh, I guess we have a general idea, really.

Most of the money around here seems to go to food, gas, and the kids, and not necessarily in that order.

And I think that’s how we’re going to leave it.

Rather than worry about the Habits of the Wealthy, the article made me think of the definition of Wealth itself.  For instance, there was no discussion about whether these sample people with their sample characteristics were happier than any of us Dog Scientists.  Or if they had pets, or watched Downton Freaking Abbey, or gave up watching Major League Baseball in the 1990s.

As my twelve-year-old would say, “Hmmmmm?”

And at the end of the day, you can’t take any of the money with you anyway.  You can spend it while you’re alive or leave it to others, but as my grandmother supposedly used to say, “There are no pockets in shrouds.”

In fact, I began to reminisce about the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and I thought there was a line in there somewhere about happiness and wealth.

After an exhausting Google search, I found the quote: “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence.” Clarence the Angel wrote that inscription in the book (Tom Sawyer) he gave to George Bailey.

I may not be wealthy but I’m not a failure, at least by the definition above.  At least two of the cats in this house are friendly to me just about dinnertime.

- Dad

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My School Found Me

Since I had no vision of furthering my career in academia while still in college many years ago, I decided for purely financial reasons to obtain my master’s degree at the same institution that conferred my bachelor’s degree.  It was a straightforward way to delay entering the Real World for at least two years and, besides, the school foolishly gave me a teaching assistantship, which translated into a completely subsidized Master of Arts degree.

All I had to do in return is read the over 400 books on the Required Reading List in just under two years and pretend to know what I was doing by instructing three classes of Basic College Writing every two semesters.

Cake!

In fact, it was the first time since I began attending my alma mater that I considered myself relatively well-funded — regular meals, gas in the car, and enough extra cash for beer money.

What could be better?

Rather than retrace the gory details of graduate school, suffice it to say I somehow miraculously was awarded a master’s degree, and I left my campus home in the summer of 1983, never to return.

Actually, I’ve been back one time that I can remember, but it’s so far out-of-the-way that I haven’t really made the effort over the years, to be honest.

Maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, I received a survey from the College of Arts and Sciences which was an effort by the school to determine how I’ve made out in life (Warren Buffet, Tom Selleck, and Peyton Manning have nothing to worry about), and how the school either did or didn’t prepare me for the Real World.

I was impressed that they took the time to track me down for my input, but I was less impressed by the avalanche of donation solicitation letters that flooded my way after I made the mistake of returning the questionnaire.

As either luck or fate would have it, I was something of a vagabond at the time (due to my job), and we moved frequently.  In those pre-internet days, I think it was easier to become lost, especially if you changed addresses with any regularity, and the letters from my school soon stopped.

Until last week.

They somehow found me again.

And they would like me to send them money.

It’s an insidious time in my life to solicit donations.  I’m not so old that I’ve completely lost my marbles, and I’m supposedly in the prime of my earning years (sigh).

I figure the school has done the math and paid some unsuspecting graduate student to research and create a database of their middle-aged, long out of touch alumni, like Yours Truly.

But I’m really making an effort to remember all the crappy things that the administration did while I was in school, to include towing student cars for really minor infractions, closing the cafeterias on weekends, and not air conditioning the dorms (let’s just say I attended a large university in the Southeastern Conference — it’s hot there, man!).

That’s a short list, I know, but I always resented how the school seemed to favor taking care of big-spending, loud-mouthed alumni at the expense of us lowly students.  It rankled me then and I haven’t forgotten.

And now I’m one of those stinking alumni.

So what do I do?

One the one hand, I kind of want to support my school.  On the other, it seems that every available dollar they spend these days is focused on the football program.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like football, and I’m glad we’re playing well, but. . . . absolute power corrupts absolutely, and I saw how athletics ruled the roost, even when we were crappy during my student days.  There’s no telling what’s going on there now, but I suspect I wouldn’t be that happy about it.

Luckily, the reality is that I’ve recently spent most of my “disposable” education income on Daughter’s Lesbian Cult College and Son’s California Dreamin’ University.

I’m all donated out, to be completely frank.

So what I’ve decided to do is throw the donation letter away, and focus on the PBS preview for Season Four of Downton Freaking Abbey that’s airing tonight.

As ironic as it might seem, I do believe Lord Grantham (and PBS) probably need my money more than my alma mater.

Ain’t education a bitch?

- Dad

I Loathe Myself!

catherine

“Yes, it’s love! Well, not really.”

The instrument has not been invented that can measure how much shame I feel. 

I am truly not worthy.  I am a moron.  I am a complete idiot.  I feel awful.   

And I’m not being hard enough on myself, either.  That’s how bad this is. 

You see, what I have done is unforgivable, certainly within the pantheon of television program royalty. 

What was my onerous transgression? 

I watched the final episode of The Bachelor with my wife by my side on Monday night.   

Oh, how far the mighty have fallen!

I have lost the moral high ground which Downtown Freaking Abbey has always afforded me.  Gone are the regular Sunday night meetings in my living room with The Finer Things Club, featuring watercress sandwiches and demitasse tea cups. 

Lady Mary’s alluring rebuff to her now-deceased and beloved Matthew, “Careful.  You’ll make me untidy,” has been replaced by Catherine’s response to Sean, “I don’t see why there would be any waiting period. I want to be his wife.”

Jeepers. 

And in the spirit of full disclosure here, I became sleepy during the finale and actually turned in for the night before Sean made his selection.  There might have been a small measure of redemption for me had I just left it at that.  But since my Spouse DVRs any television program with either “bachelor” or “real housewives” in the title, I knew the balance of the unseen episode was lurking somewhere on that server.

Yep.  The next day I watched the last 30 minutes I missed. 

“Absolutely pathetic,” you say? 

I agree.

To make matters worse, I found a certain element of “creepy” permeated much of the program.  To my observation, Sean’s father seemed more than a little suspect in terms of his interaction with the two female finalists.  He was, in fact, a bit too welcoming and weird with them. 

He may have said, “You would be a wonderful addition to our family, if Sean chooses  you.”

What I heard was, “If my son stiffs you, I am probably available.  I know I’m already married to Sean’s mother, but don’t worry about that.”

I don’t know.  Maybe these folks would fit into Downtown Freaking Abbey after all, but some of the main characters would have to die, so I am not sure if that’s really an option.

Do people actually think any of this is real?  Is the drama sincere?  I mean, come on, Repo Wars seems more authentic.

You might wonder, why did I lower myself so?  Quite frankly, there was no much else on, and I was somewhat fatigued.  Perhaps my brains was a bit frazzled.  Maybe I wanted to bond with my wife and try to understand her fascination with this type of crap thing. 

I suppose there really isn’t a very good explanation.  Sometimes sh stuff happens. 

I guess the main point here is that everyone stumbles once in a while.  And I do believe there is a Road to Redemption.  I do not know, however, how many episodes of Masterpiece Theater cancel out one The Bachelor.  I’m still calculating, but I’m thinking the answer is “many.”

In the meantime, I have begun the Twelve-Step Recovery Process.  I have already completed Step One, which is admitting I have a problem.  I’m currently fighting through some of the other stages, but I have found that kitten photos and blurred pictures of the Amish somewhat diminish the bad taste of The Bachelor

But not entirely. 

I have to come to terms with what I’ve done and am determined to move on from here.  I must re-center with Zen-me and focus on the Way Ahead. 

And figure out the remote control programming features to filter/block future episodes of The Bachelor

After all, that is the safest route, but it will also necessitate incurring the wrath of the adult females in the house. 

That’s a small price to pay for true love, I figure.

- Dad

What a Horrific Weekend It Was!

grav

“Maybe I’ll be reincarnated next season. Probably not, but there are always residuals.”

Yes, that title is past tense.  While I was on the road a couple of weeks ago, I experienced the unique opportunity of having an entire weekend to myself, unattached to any of the normal commitments I usually have at home.

So, I lived it up during my “dream” weekend.  Saturday was the fullest day.  I slept in to 7:00 a.m. (gasp!).  Treated myself to some foo-foo coffee and a muffin.  And then. . . . headed out to the local “Pick ‘n Pull” junkyard.

I didn’t have any tools, and I wasn’t dressed properly, but that didn’t stop me.  You can never really tell what kind of hidden treasure lies rotting away in these places, and my strategic plan was to identify any really great find during my initial visit, and the return the next day to extract it.

As it turns out, this particular yard, being somewhere below the Mason-Dixon, featured more American iron than the foreign crap I usually drive.  There were not many exotics (none), but the trip wasn’t entirely wasted.  I did find two screwdrivers under the back seat of an old VW (one of the few there), so they were worth approximately what I paid for admission ($2.00 – I really don’t keep track of these things — really).

By this time it was early afternoon, and my next adventurous stop was at one of the largest used bookstores in the country.  It’s the kind of place that has more than a whiff of mold lurking about, and where there used to be a resident cat who prowled the bookshelves (and relieved himself wherever his heart desired).

Sure enough, the mold was still there, but I didn’t see the cat.

I spent a couple of happy hours trolling among the tomes, and ended up in the philosophy section, where I thought I might source a nice volume on Buddhism or Zen, or something along those lines.  As luck would have it, the more I looked, the more confusing the titles became, and then my back started hurting from standing around for so long.

I decided the best course of action was to indulge in a nice dinner, which I promptly did.  I won’t tell you what I ate, but I did drink two glasses of Sweet Iced Tea.  Sweet!

To finish off the day, I visited the 24-screen multiplex theater at the mall down the road from my hotel, and finally got to see Skyfall.  Even though it’s been out for several months now, I didn’t know much about the plot or action.  I was just looking for some mindless 007 entertainment, because I really like Daniel Craig in the role.

Do I imagine myself as Daniel Craig?  Nope.  But I certainly can envision myself in an Aston Martin, driving my own personal Soccer Mom (read, my wife — please) around.

However, in the meantime, I have to settle for my Beater Miata, in which my wife hesitates to ride (because of its size; not my driving, I think).

SPOILER ALERT:  Stop reading now if you haven’t seen the movie and intend to.

I have got to tell you I was almost completely bummed out regarding two aspects of the overall Skyfall experience.  First, I don’t go to James Bond flicks to see the main character deal with the problems of getting older.  If I wanted that, I would just stare a few more minutes longer at the mirror in the morning when I get up.

I want to be entertained, damn it!  I want spills and thrills and chills.  And high-class Soccer Moms driving Ferraris and not minivans.

And, second, what did I get?

M dies.

That just really sucked.  As James’ eyes teared up during that final scene with her, mine did, as well.

Not really.  But I didn’t like it.

By the time I returned to my room from the cinema, it was well after midnight, and I slipped off to sleep trying to figure out if I even cared to watch the Super Bowl the next day.

When I woke up the following morning, I knew I wouldn’t be following football.

Because I was in luck.  The local PBS station was carrying back-to-back episodes of Downton Freaking Abbey, so I would not only be able to catch up with the previous episode I missed, I would have an entirely new one to watch, as well.

SPOILER ALERT:   If you are one of the three people in this country who has not watched any Downton Abbey episodes this season (but intend to), stop reading now.

Let me fast forward to a conversation I experienced on the following Monday morning just a day later:

“What did you think of Beyonce’s halftime show (I actually had to look up how to spell her name just now — man, am I out of it, or what)?  It was one of the best things I ever saw.”

“Didn’t watch it.  Didn’t care.  I was watching Downton Abbey.  It’s got girls, too.”

What I failed to mention is how gut-shot I was because, damn it, Lady Sybil died.  I didn’t know.  Had no idea.  Hadn’t prepared myself.

So there I found myself, late Sunday night, pondering the loss of two characters I episodically cared about now and again, over the past few years.

But then I realized.  Another Bond film is already in the works, and Downton Abbey continues for at least one more season.

Hope, indeed, does spring eternal.

- Dad

Good God, Man, Don’t Sit There!

economy

Not me, but a very good representation of me. And, yes, that seat is occupied. Go away.

While it seems as if Daughter’s back-to-school life rivals that of Rodney Dangerfield (when he was still alive and acting, of course), I feel somewhat disadvantaged if I don’t write a post about bars, drinking, insulting random strangers, or figuring out how I can slip into my post an obscure “hip” reference to something no one knows anything about. 

Then I realized that Daughter’s posts essentially fill me in (and you, too) about all the gory details associated with clubbing in the New Millenium. 

I’m sorry.  I’m perfectly happy with my cup of tea watching Downton Freaking Abbey on Sunday nights. 

The allure of the conditions Daughter describes escapes me but, then again, many things my kids do escape me.  I seem to remember an awkward conversation with my own mother decades ago now, trying to explain why there was a (frozen) can of Generic Beer (does anyone remember that?) in the freezer.  The funny thing was, it was my Mom’s beer (although she never touched the stuff), which she used for a secret recipe beer bread.  God knows how old it was, but on a thirsty, late Saturday night watching Saturday Night Live by myself (you know, with John Belushi — that crowd), a cold Generic Beer synchronized almost too perfectly with what was on the television. 

So I’m hoping that I remain amused (as opposed to judgmental) regarding the club scene in whatever college town Daughter frequents on weekends. 

Been there.  Done that.  Got the t-shirt (somewhere). 

Alas, I have no witty account of my latest social encounter.  Rather, I find myself tonight on yet another business trip, to a destination I would rather not visit, in the company of individuals to whom I would prefer not talk.  And as seems to happen more often than not, I experienced weather delays en route yesterday, and what should have been a five-hour ordeal was more than double that.   

My social interaction during the Denver airport delay included sharing newspapers with strangers, pretending that my bottled water wasn’t filled up at the drinking fountain, and deciding whether I could risk drinking a different brand of foo-foo coffee rather than the standard one the women in my family have used to water board me (I didn’t). 

I did chat with a security guard briefly, since she had to explain to me why she was guarding the vending machine area (she wasn’t) and why I couldn’t use it (I couldn’t).  In a clever bit of post-modern capitalism, it seems the electricity for these machines only clicks on after all the restaurants close.  So I guess the “true eateries” feel threatened by the machines. 

Can you say “Terminator Three“?

But that wasn’t the real highlight of the journey.  That came later, and it truly caught me by surprise because it was so counterintuitive. 

The story goes like this.  I usually try to fly the same airline on most of my trips (issues with delays, notwithstanding).  Though I don’t think I need to mention the name, this particular airline has open seating.  I believe the strategy for most Muggles is to grab either a window or aisle seat, thereby leaving the less fortunate masses to deal with squeezing in the middle. 

If you have flown lately, no doubt you’ve noticed that the cabins are darn full these days, and open seats have become quite a commodity.  As fate would have it, our delayed flight last night was not full.  Not full.  Therefore, the possibility was very real that a middle seat might remain unoccupied for the entire three-hour leg. 

Though I fought temptation, I allowed my over-fatigued mind the faintest hope that I might be afforded the luxury of stretching out just for a bit, not clanging elbows with anyone, and generally lording my spatial superiority over the lesser mortals crammed into the rest of the plane.

Well, that last thought was my undoing, probably.  Simply stated, I did not possess the Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch.  Consequently, the Great Pumpkin passed me over.

In a big way.

Picture this.  I giddily (really, that’s how I felt) grabbed a window seat near the front of the aircraft.  Both the middle (of course) and aisle seats were still open as the Muggle refugee line morosely filed in.  So, my expectation would be that a Soccer Mom would perch on the aisle seat, and if she piled enough crap in between us (something I would never do), I would be home free.

Nope.

Not only does a Soccer Mom not join my row (that never happens anyway), a guy with a laptop plops down — AND TAKES THE MIDDLE SEAT NEXT TO ME.  Mind you, the aisle seat was still open.

I’ve never, ever had this happen to me, and if I hadn’t been so tired already, my mind would have begun racing.  As it was, it merely jogged, or maybe walked at a fast clip. 

My fellow traveler was a younger guy, seemed pretty normal (whatever that means), and settled in to read a book (perfect).  Eventually, someone took the aisle seat (that makes perfect sense), so we were left in full sardine can mode. 

But think if that hadn’t happened.  Other than those crazy couples that still have the kinds of feelings for each other that necessitate sitting next to each other on airplanes, there we would have been, this book-reading guy and me.  Loving life and our plane ride together. 

Just a little strange, but not a big deal.  While I was still conscious, I snuck a peek at what he was reading.  It was a story of some dude going through SEAL training.  Maybe he thought I could give him pointers.  Maybe he thought I was a former SEAL.  Maybe he thought I was just a seal.  Who knows?  He seemed nice enough, never said a word, but still. . . .  Sitting in that middle seat.  I don’t know.

Let’s just leave it at that.  Zen-me lives on. 

Daughter, let’s go grab a beer-o!

- Dad

San Diego — We Have a Problem. . . . Probably Not

dogdigging

There’s nothing down there. I know there’s nothing down there. But I sense the Dog Scientists seek inspiration like this. I’m gonna keep digging.

It was yet another cool, beautiful Southern California winter day, and this morning we were able to visit one of our favorite destinations — Dog Beach.  For those of you unfamiliar with the phenomena (we have several scattered around the city), Dog Beach (for that matter, any beach with the unfettered ability for dogs to roam) is a place known as Dogdom Dog Nirvana. 

Go ahead.  Google it. 

It’s a special place where the normal dog behavior rules don’t apply, and if you’re a dog, you can do pretty much do anything you want — run wild and free, swim in the ocean, perch quietly in the sand and watch the world go by, sniff anyone you want as much as you want, and you can poop and pee anywhere any time. 

Well, maybe that last point isn’t really unique, but you get the picture. 

I figure the human equivalent is something along the lines of all us running around without underwear, but that’s about as far as I am willing to take the analogy. 

After allowing our Dandy Dog his day at the beach, we began our long trek back to the parking lot.  Along the way, there was a “hub-bub” up ahead of us that was drawing a crowd.  And believe me, an event has to be really, really special at Dog Beach to both attract attention and be labelled a “hub-bub.”

Soon we came upon a medium-size brown pooch of indeterminate heritage, happily engaged in an absolutely feverish bout of hole digging.  We’re not talking about dainty, delicate scratching three inches deep in the sand — think major excavation, steam shovel-type activity.  Clouds of sand were simply exploding into the morning air.  It was quite a sight, indeed, and the happy dog was soon joined by other canines. 

It was a Dog Beach Riot.

But soon, the whole scene became even more interesting, as a three-legged dog friend sauntered up, clearly intrigued with the “hole thing” going on.  I could see the tiny dog gears turning inside his head as he sized up the opportunity that had presented itself. 

For a three-legged dog, I’m thinking that digging a hole is quite the daunting undertaking. 

Interpretive Three-Legged Dog Thoughts:  “Gee, there are several perfectly good holes here.  When was the last time I dug one?  Well, that’s stupid.  It was when you had four legs, dummy.  Right.  I should never have gotten on that motorcycle.  Stupid human joke.  Well, I think I can sort of just slide down here and kind of, yep, I can!  I’m in the hole and I’m sort of digging!” 

At this point, my attention was drawn to the dog’s owner.  Clearly all this activity had taken him completely by surprise, as well, yet he had his camera at the ready and was busy taking happy snaps of (I think) the top of his dog’s back.  It was a big hole, and that’s about all you could see of him (the dog, not the owner). 

We soon continued our walk and eventually made it back to the parking lot.  It was all fairly uneventful after the hole-digging episode.

Dandy Dog fell asleep on the way home, dreaming of zeppelins and Red Ryder bb guns. 

And then I realized what really makes Dog Beach and its occasional inhabitants so unique today — they care not one wit about the premier of Downton Freaking Abbey, Season Three!

Maybe they don’t realize Lord Grantham’s favorite dog is named Isis.  Maybe not. 

There’s something there, but I just don’t know what it is. . . . 

- Dad

It’s Downton Freaking Abbey Season Three — And I’m Not Ashamed of It!

Downton

“Dad. No. That book is not on your nightstand. Dad. No!!!”

I heard something advertised on the car radio tonight on my way home from work that I never in my lifetime imagined would happen — an advertisement for an upcoming PBS series.  Think about that for a minute.

Car dealerships.  Yes.  Alcoholic refreshments.  Yes.  Concerts.  Yes.  Paid political advertisements for the municipal government in Tijuana.  Yes.

PBS?  Never.

That was the second unique life experience for me this week.  Is the end of the world nigh?  Probably not, but the unfolding circumstances are somewhat suspicious.

Of course, the ad was for the premiere of Downton Abbey, Season Three, this Sunday — only the most popular series in PBS history.  And I’ll be there, plopped on the couch, enthralled with every moment.

That description would be really sickening, if I weren’t talking about myself here. Well, maybe it’s a little sickening anyway.

Now just to ensure I don’t transmit the wrong message here, anyone in my family will tell you that Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. are inviolate in our house.  I have been religiously watching Masterpiece Theater during that timeslot since the 70’s.  More religiously, in fact, than attending church, it seems, over the years.

Even though the chronology works out neatly, I still get, “Dad, how could you do that then?  You were in preschool.” There is also a little problem with math in this family.

I have always been a regular viewer of Masterpiece Theater, not because I thought it made me better than everyone else.  I watched it because it appealed to me in an intellectual way that most everything else on television didn’t.

Okay, maybe I am a bit of a snob, but I truly look forward to my weekly respite on Sunday nights.  It is kind of like my own version of “The Finer Things Club” on The Office.  That is, not just anyone can join in (or understand).  Once a week, I sit down with my my nice cup of tea, listen to Laura Linney’s introduction, and I float into the world Masterpiece paints for me.  It is kind of exclusive in a televisiony sort of way.

And that’s just how I like it.

I have come to realize, however, that Downton Abbey is essentially the aristocratic version of Real Housewives of New Jersey, Orange County, New York, Atlanta, and Mobile.  Okay, I made that last one up, but I already frightened myself by being able to list all the other versions/locations first.

For context, I give the women in my house unending grief about the amount of time they spend wrapped up in the vacuous programming on BravoShi Shoot, I can remember when Bravo programming actually featured opera and theater, and other crap like that.  But I now have a really hard time distinguishing Bravo from anything on Fox, or Discovery, or most everything else on the 7,000 channels we have access to, for that matter.

Which brings me back to Downton.  I like it because:

1)  The stories are relatively believable and far enough in the past that I wouldn’t know the difference if they weren’t anyway.

2)  I’m in better shape than Lord Grantham, but he’s a lot richer than me (apparently a change is afoot there this season).

3)  His wife is the quintessential Edwardian Soccer Mom.  Remember, I Love Soccer Moms (insert trademark here).  After all, I’m married to a modern one.

4)  The dresses — beautiful, elegant, and delicate!  And brassieres were not widely used until the 1930’s (thanks, Wiki).

5)  What’s not to like having a bunch of servants iron your daily newspaper? I dig that, man!

Though I was the only member of my house to originally tune in, subsequent re-runs have now hooked my wife.

Daughter, however, turns up her Lesbian-Cult-School-Indoctrinated Nose at my Downton friends.  I’m really not sure why, but in her defense, she does watch Ghost Adventures with me.  That Zak Bagans, he’s a tatted Victorian at heart, I figure.  Yeah.  That’s the link.

I could go on, I suppose, but what’s the point?

It’s Downton Freaking Abbey.  You either get it, or you don’t.  Fortunately, I do.

Daughter, please don’t bother me on Sunday anywhere around 9:00 p.m.

Thanks.

- Dad

Talismans, Stress, Downton Freaking Abbey, and Power Kittens

Badness, Be Gawwn!!

Badness, Be Gawwn!!

So I’ve been working my a really, really hard lately.  So much so that most of the routines and thoughts that define my regular life have completely gone out the window the past few weeks.  It su is challenging.  But not as challenging as lesbian break dancing and Christmas bingo (Note important blog tags, Daughter).

It’s a known psychological phenomenon that everyone handles stress differently; violently, meekly, and otherwise.  I fall squarely into the “otherwise” slash “let’s buy more lottery tickets tonight” category.  Though I haven’t actually studied psychology, long years of reading (and badly pronouncing)  Sturm und Drang poetry has prepared me well for this time in my life.  (Another note to Daughter – I understand obscure German references do nothing to increase blog readership, but what the he heck.)

In the meantime, I’m trying to get through everything the best I can while simultaneously making plans for ultimately escaping the drama and settling into my dream job — spending mornings on the beach with a coffee, and playing basketball at lunch.  I do realize, however, that most of these employment situations were spoken for long ago, but it doesn’t stop me from continuing my search.

Anyway, my holistic, spiritual spouse has been somewhat concerned with my state, and has begun a stringent course of therapeutic talisman treatments.  Maybe years ago I simply tolerated her placement of the odd crystal under my pillow or mug of the mulberry root extract tea, but I managed to turn the corner in the believability quotient at some point and began to think all these things actually might help — they certainly didn’t hurt, unless I stepped on one of them.  I now “religiously” carry in separate pockets an angel and some kind of black rock; one watches over me, and the other sucks away all the bad energy.  I think.  I also wear a necklace, strung with apparently stolen stones from Easter Island, for positive energy and good vibrations.  Go figure.

The thing is, on this trip I’ve come close to losing two of the big three.  Each time I thought one was gone, it magically reappeared.  I’ve been that frazzled.  But I also go through a similar routine when these of near misses happen, in which I reason through the idea that the talisman had essentially completed its work with me and was needed more urgently somewhere else.  Or I’m just losing my mind and getting older.  It’s one of the two.

Tonight, for the first time in weeks, I was able to not work for a few hours, and after becoming thoroughly depressed watching a piece on SportsCenter detailing how easily millionaire athletes go broke, I channel-surfed my way to PBS and landed on a Season Two episode of Downton Abbey.  While the girls in my house clog the DVR with various Housewives of . . . crap, I find solace in the banality of Edwardian England, and the elegant evening wear, quite frankly.  It just felt good escaping there, at least momentarily.

But the absolute highlight of the week was last night when Daughter texted me the photo of her, bottle feeding MamaCat (see my earlier blog post, for Sandy reference) from many years ago.  While I take a lot of grief for what’s known alternately as “The Tire Swing Incident” or “The You Two Will Have to Leave the Emergency Room While I Stitch Up Her Lip Incident” in my family (you guess which one applies to whom), what Daughter may not remember is that she was frequently the son I never had (but really do) when she was small.  In those days, I used to take her everywhere with me.

Sure, I liked her company, but there were certain advantages, too.  “Hey, why don’t you cut ahead of us in line since your little girl looks tired” — that kind of thing.

Yep.  A few things frighten me about Daughter.  The trove of kitten and puppy photos, for instance.  What’s that about?  The weird haircut thing started early, too, it seems, and there are still some issues regarding her understanding of the exact definition of, “if you get this, I will take care of it.

But in the end, she reminded me of a special time in both our lives, and lifted my spirits for a moment while I flailed in the emotional maelstrom.  I guess the only other thing that would have made me feel better would have been a lesbian break dancing Christmas bingo TV special, but we’ll hope that happens during next year’s Festivus celebration.

Thank you, Daughter.

- Dad

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